Middle East Eye / August 3, 2021
New poll reaffirms previous findings on growing partisan divide over US policy towards Israel-Palestine.
Only 8.1 percent of US Democrats blame the Palestinians for Israel’s offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip in May, a recent survey has shown, highlighting the growing partisan divide over perceptions of the conflict in American politics.
According to the poll published by the University of Maryland, 3.7 percent of Republicans said Israelis were mostly to blame for the escalation.
The figures affirm previous polling which suggests that Democrats are becoming increasingly sympathetic towards the Palestinians while Republicans hold on to the prevailing pro-Israel stance in US politics.
The majority of respondents – 62.7 percent – said America’s role in mediating the conflict should “lean toward neither side”.
Only 9.5 percent of Democrats said it should lean towards Israel, compared to 50.7 percent of Republicans. A larger share of Democratic respondents, 17.9 percent, said US policy should lean towards Palestinians. The number drops to 2.5 percent amongst Republicans.
The national poll was conducted from 22 June to 21 July among 3,379 respondents.
The poll comes amid growing calls from progressive Democrats that the Biden administration push Israel to respect the human rights of Palestinians.
More than 43 of the Democrats and a quarter of overall respondents agreed with the statement that “the US must apply more pressure on Israel, including withholding aid”.
Despite increased Democratic willingness to criticize Israel, US President Biden has continued his predecessors’ nearly unquestioning support for the Israeli government.
During Israel’s May offensive, the US administration kept emphasizing what it called “Israel’s right to defend itself” and blocked a statement from the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire.
US officials said Washington was focused on “quiet” diplomacy to end the fighting.
Israeli air strikes killed more than 248 Palestinians, including dozens of children, while rockets fired by Hamas and other groups killed 13 people in Israel. Israeli forces killed 29 people in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
The crisis started with still-ongoing Israeli efforts to forcibly remove Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
On Monday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his incoming Israeli counterpart Eyal Hulata, reasserting Washington’s pledge to “consult closely” with Israel on regional issues.
The two officials “exchanged views about the opportunities in the region, including advancing the normalization of relations between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim world and recent positive developments in Israel’s relationship with Jordan,” the White House said in a statement.
“Mr Sullivan also stressed the importance of pursuing positive steps related to the Palestinians, which are critical to peace, security and prosperity,” it added without specifying what the steps are.